|Summitt lauded by SI |
|Posted: Wednesday, December 7, 2011 12:02 pm |
For 38 seasons, Coach Pat Summitt has racked up big numbers on the basketball court, but it’s perhaps the big heart she’s shown off the court in the last few months that has propelled her to the title of Sports Illustrated’s 2011 Sportswoman of the Year.
Lady Vol Coach Pat Summitt (left) and Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski will grace the cover of Sports Illustrated Monday as the two have been chosen by SI as Sportswoman and Sportsman of the Year. Photo by Simon Bruty/SI
The announcement was made Monday morning and for the 2011 Sportsman of the Year, Sports Illustrated went with another famed coach, Mike Krzyzewski of Duke.
Of course, Summitt’s 1,075 wins and counting and eight national titles at the helm of the Tennessee Lady Vols’ program carried a lot of weight with the decision.
When the legendary coach went public with the announcement of early-onset dementia in August, however, touching off several supportive programs including a “We Back Pat” T-shirt and the recent formation of the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund, she took on a new level of respect from both lifelong Tennessee fans and those not familiar to the program.
“Obviously, this is a tremendous honor,” Summitt said in a UT release. “I am so privileged to share it with such a great coach in Mike Krzyzewski. During our careers, we have both been fortunate to work with so many talented student-athletes who were driven to excel both on and off the court.”
“For me, this recognition is a direct reflection of the outstanding young women who have worn the orange and white Lady Vol jersey of the University of Tennessee, the coaching staffs I have worked with throughout my career and the supportive administration at UT,” she added.
On a local level, when thinking and talking about Summitt, a few people still throw in her maiden name and hearken back to the days of when Pat Head highlighted the basketball court for UT Martin when women’s basketball, through Title IX, was just beginning to find its feet.
The Elam Center court now bears her name and her No. 55 jersey hangs in the rafters as a testament to that period of time.
“Pat is a great ambassador for the women’s game,” UT Martin Skyhawk women’s basketball coach Kevin McMillan said. “The tradition she has built started here at UT Martin in her playing days and it’s continued from there. We feel very honored to have been a part of that.”
“This is wonderful. We are all so excited, particularly with this coming at a time when Pat’s been dealing with her new illness,” Bettye Giles, former athletic director at UT Martin, said.
“She has done so much for the advancement of women’s sports and I have every confidence that she will do for Alzheimer’s awareness what she’s been able to do for sports. We are all so very proud of her.”
Summitt and Krzyzewski will be honored with the awards in New York City tonight.